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Economic Reality Or Brand Suicide? Harley Davidson To Lay Off One in Four In Milwaukee

What’s the one thing which, more than any other single factor, has made Harley-Davidson motorcycles an American brand icon?

Made in America.

Hard times have led the management of The Motor Company to send out layoff notices to some Milwaukee-area Harley-Davidson employees. Those affected by the announcement will keep their jobs until April 2012, but the layoffs are part of the broad restructuring the Motor Co. announced in 2010.

It’s sad news and the layoffs will ultimately result in a 26 percent reduction in Harley’s Milwaukee-area labor force as the layoffs are completed.

Some 250 workers will lose their full time jobs, and the company plans to and hire 150 to 250 temporary employees to handle seasonal production needs.

What will the move save the company? H-D said they expect to save $50 million annually beginning in 2013 due to contract changes with Wisconsin workers. The workers set for “downsizing” are represented by the United Steelworkers and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers.

What will the move actually cost The Motor Company?

It’s anyone’s guess, but the move seems to be yet another step down the slippery slope to producing The American Motorcycle somewhere other than America.

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